Kings Recall Byfield, Kupari, Spence + Kaliyev to Injured Reserve

Happy Tuesday, Insiders!

We’re back at it today from Toyota Sports Performance Center for morning skate, in advance of tonight’s game against the division-leading Vegas Golden Knights, but first, a few roster moves to get things started.

The Kings have recalled the trio of Quinton Byfield, Rasmus Kupari and Jordan Spence from the AHL’s Ontario Reign. In a corresponding move, the Kings have placed forward Arthur Kaliyev on injured reserve, retroactive to December 20.

Working in reverse, Kaliyev blocked a shot late in the 4-1 win over Anaheim on December 20 and did not play in the win over Calgary or the overtime loss in Arizona heading into the break. Being injured reserve and not long-term injured reserve, Kaliyev’s clock is seven days and not 24. Since his injury occured on 12/20, the Kings can place Kaliyev on IR, retroactive to that date and can activate him at any time. Prior to the holiday break, Head Coach Todd McLellan indicated that Kaliyev would be re-evaluated when the team returned from the break, which is this morning. More to follow.

On Kupari and Spence, both players were assigned to AHL-Ontario immediately before the holiday break and were recalled this morning. Essentially a paper transaction situation as we’ve seen several times before. Both players were recalled from AHL-Ontario on December 12, between road games in Columbus and Buffalo. Since that time, both individuals have been part of the Kings lineup here at the NHL level and both players have been shuffled to and from the AHL. Though he has been sent down and recalled three separate times since 12/12, Kupari hasn’t missed a game since he entered back into the lineup on December 15 in Boston, centering the fourth line during his time here. In between two sets of transactions, Spence has played in three NHL games this season, including his season debut on December 17 versus San Jose. Kupari and Spence are both available this evening against Vegas.

Lastly, we have forward Quinton Byfield, who returns to the NHL level this morning following a stint of nearly two months at the AHL level. Byfield was first loaned to Ontario coming off of an extended illness, one that saw him lose an extensive amount of weight and caused him to miss several games. He went 16 days between his most recent NHL game, October 25 vs. Tampa Bay, and his first AHL game, November 10 vs. San Jose.

“I think on the offensive side of things, you see a little bit of that production and handling more minutes,” Kings General Manager Rob Blake said of Byfield, earlier this month. “It’s a spot where he can work on a lot of aspects of his game, with multiple minutes down there.”

While reported in some places as a conditioning loan, Byfield’s assignment was a regular transaction to the AHL and he remained with the Reign for 16 games, amassing nine goals and 15 points from that span. Byfield’s offensive production was quite good, by any metric, as he averaged over a half-goal per game. As Blake alluded to above, and as McLellan shared right before the break, the other parts of the game, centering around consistency, were also a part of the assignment.

“He went down, initially, to get his strength and his weight back which took some time and now he’s playing some games and he’s playing an impact role on that team,” McLellan said on Thursday. “We get reports on him on a regular basis, on him and the team, everybody who’s playing. There have been some really good reports and then there have been some indifferent reports. He’s working on his game and working on the consistency in his game. Is he an important player, an important prospect, absolutely. Will he have an impact in the National Hockey League, absolutely.”

We’ll see if that impact starts tonight, as the Kings host Vegas this evening at Arena, in a battle of the top two teams by point total in the Pacific Division. Reports to follow on whether or not each of the three players recalled will factor into morning line rushes.

From The Team’s Official Release –

Byfield, 20, opened the 2022-23 campaign with the Kings, tallying three points (0-3=3) in eight games. In 16 games with the Reign, the 6-5, 200-pound forward has registered 15 points (9-6=15) and leads all Reign skaters with nine goals. Since making his NHL debut on April 28, 2021, the 20-year-old has appeared in 54 career NHL games, posting 14 points (5-9=14). Drafted second overall in the 2020 NHL Draft, Byfield made his professional hockey debut in 2020-21 as a member of the Reign, tallying 20 points (8-12=20) in 32 AHL games. Since his AHL debut, he’s registered 41 points (21-20) in 59 AHL games.

Kupari, 22, has tallied five points (2-3=5) in 21 appearances with the Kings and added nine points (5-4=9) in 11 games with the Reign. Through 85 career NHL games, the 6-2, 200-pound forward has posted 19 points (8-11=19) and added 48 points (24-24=48) in 85 AHL games.

Spence, 21, has skated in three games with the Kings after opening the 2022-23 season with the Reign where he registered 21 points (2-19=21) in 22 games. His 21 points currently rank tied for sixth among all AHL defensemen and sits second among all Reign skaters. The 5-10, 170-pound defenseman made his professional hockey debut last season by splitting time with both the Kings and Reign. In 24 NHL games, he collected eight points (2-6=8) and made his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut by appearing in three games. He also skated in 46 games with the Reign, notching 42 points (4-38=42) to lead all team defensemen in scoring.

Kaliyev, 21, has appeared in 34 games for the Kings this season, recording 19 points (9-10=19) with a career-high seven power-play goals, nine power-play points, six PIM and 79 shots. On Nov. 14 in Calgary, Kaliyev eclipsed the 20-goal mark of his career is his 98th career NHL game, becoming the sixth Kings player in the last 25 years to score his first 20 NHL goals in less than 100 games. The 6-2, 210-pound forward played in his first full NHL season last year, posting 27 points (14-13=27). His six power-play goals tied for most on the team and ranked second in the league among rookies while his averaged 16.8 shot attempts for-per-60 minutes led all NHL rookies with at least 500 minutes of time-on-ice. Since his NHL debut with the Kings on Feb. 2, 2020, Kaliyev has accumulated 47 points (23-23=47) with a team-leading 13 power-play goals, 43 PIM and 274 shots.

The Kings are slated to hit the ice here in around 30 minutes in El Segundo. We’ll expect a full-team morning skate today, following three consecutive days off for the holiday break, before the Kings and Golden Knights meet this evening. Should be an exciting one, Insiders! Game Preview to follow in a few hours.

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